“ Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics / Author: Akira Honma / Paperback / 200 Pages / Book is published 2011-06-28 by Digital Manga Publishing „
Dr Uzuki is a mild mannered doctor who works at the local university hospital. Walking home one evening, he is rather dismayed to discover a man suffering from a gunshot wound lying in an alleyway. The man is no victim of a robbery, and despite feeling decidedly out of it, convinces Uzuki to treat him without reporting the incident. Fearing that if he calls an ambulance or reports the incident in any way, Uzuki agrees as its rather obvious that the man is a yakuza. He hopes that by treating the man and leaving him once stable, that this will be the end of it.
What he doesn't expect is for the man to recall seeing where Uzuki worked, or his name. Nor that the man's fugue state will have caused him to believe that a beautiful woman saved him and "speaks to his tiger" (the tattoo on his back). When the man mistakenly comes to the hospital and strong arms a hospital stay to find his cherished "Suzuki", Uzuki is terrified. What will happen if the hardboiled yakuza discovers Uzuki's identity and that it's all a misunderstanding due to his wooziness? Hopefully, he'll give up and just go home, right? Or maybe not...
I found this story to be filled with drama and well balanced with a generous helping of humour. The disparate walks of life and polar opposite personalities worked together to set up the "mistaken identity" while Dr Uzuki's fears and concerns were laid out neatly and were entirely plausible, working to raise the tension while simultaneously setting up the next humourous incident.
It was also refreshing that this was not one of those stories where every single man in the story suddenly turns out to be gay except for an annoying brother or homophobic boss or whatever. Rather, here we have two men who identify as straight. So much so that when Uzuki administers to him in his hour of need, the semi-delirious and ever so grateful patient inadvertently makes him over into a woman to fit his conscious ideal. But it's the person that he's fallen in love with, and as the story progresses, we start to see a change in how each man views his sexuality. It's not a sudden, "OK, I'm totally gay now and women were a mistake" event either, but rather a discovery that sometimes, what we actually find attractive and alluring in others is not comprised of any physical body part, but the attributes contained from within. Truth be told, both men do not find this out in a sudden revelation either, but fumble their way confusedly as the tiger stalks his shy prey, which wants to run like hell in terror of getting a beating for being inadvertently deceitful.
It's a volume 1 out of an ongoing series (3 volumes so far, of which so far the first 2 have been published in English), so we don't get a rushed conclusion. Instead, this volume allows us to understand the set up, get to know the characters, and the story to build. So much so that due to its only mildly explicit nature (despite its niche market), it's rated for readers ages 16 and up. It's not overly drawn out either, and I have to admit the pacing kept my attention so that I was disappointed when I came to the last page.
Honma's art meshed perfectly with her prose, with the detailed expressions punctuating the inner turmoil being felt, adding emotional punches where needed. Her backgrounds were well thought out and her panel layout made for easy reading without confusion. Admittedly the men are a nice bit of eye candy, but that is a pretty standard trope for romance stories, and I quite liked that the degree of attractiveness was not overplayed nor was the doctor made to look like the woman he was initially mistaken for. The fact that Uzuki isn't actually serves to add to the humour of the situation.
A nice bit of male/male chick lit in manga form, it's well worth the cost of the book and a pleasant way to spend some time.